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ABSTRACT Sep 30
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Naturalistic Models of Society and the Novel Form (NeMLA)

University at Buffalo
Organization: Northeast Modern Literature Association
Event: NeMLA
Categories: Comparative, Literary Theory, Narratology, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, History, Philosophy, Science, Miscellaneous
Event Date: 2021-03-11 to 2021-03-14 Abstract Due: 2020-09-30

Abstract
 
This panel will seek to explore the changing relationship between scientific paradigms and society’s self-understanding as it is manifest in the novel form. If the novel itself has functioned as a record of the social imagination—a narrative ideologeme as Jameson describes it – this social imagination often borrowed its models from contemporary natural philosophy and later the social sciences. We see examples of this in Balzac’s use of taxonomical zoology, Sterne’s use of Cartesian “animal spirits,” or Joyce’s phylogenetic process in “Oxen of the Sun.” Some of the questions this panel will ask include: how do naturalistic sociological models help to mediate political and aesthetic theories? How do these models affect stylistic developments? And finally, is the relationship between aesthetics and sociological modeling deterministic or dialogical? The recent trends against strong critical theory– from Best and Marcus, as well as Rita Felski, Rancière, and Bruno Latour—provide exciting potential avenues of research regarding these questions. Should we, as researchers, historicize and critique the role of scientific modeling in constructing an aesthetic work? Or, following Felski and others, should we eschew the “critical sensibility” in order to understand this relationship and our role more creatively? A recent work by French sociologists and literary scholars—Balzac, l’invention de la sociologie – shows that the scientific and aesthetic paradigms often inform or at least inspire each other. We might find that, regardless of our approaches, the lines between the critical, descriptive, and creative are not as clear as they appear at first.
 
Description 
If the novel itself has functioned as a record of the social imagination, this social imagination often borrowed its models from contemporary natural philosophy and later the social sciences. How do naturalistic sociological models help to mediate political and aesthetic theories? How do these models affect stylistic developments? This panel will explore the changing relationship between scientific paradigms and society’s self-understanding as it is manifest in the novel form.
 
Next year's NeMLA conference will take place in Philadelphia from March 11-14, 2021.

The deadline for presentation proposals is September 30, 2020. Submit here: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/18921

nolson@gradcenter.cuny.edu

Nicholas Olson